There were plenty of people, I’m sure, who hated the recent decision in San Francisco to ban Happy Meal toys (or, more specifically, toy incentives in fast food meals that don’t meet basic nutritional guidelines). But there were also plenty of supporters, of course, and some of those supporters from different areas of the country are now looking at the possibility of similar legislation in their cities.
After the Healthy Meals ordinance passed in San Francisco, Judy Grant, director of the Value [the] Meal Campaign, said: “We heard from people across the country who are excited about this. This is not going to stop at San Francisco.”
And just last week, City Councilor Greg Mertzig of Superior, WI proposed a similar ordinance. The proposal, interestingly enough, comes from a veteran concerned about the recent report by Mission: Readiness that obesity is compromising national security.
In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio Mertzig compared toys in unhealthy meals to candy cigarettes:
“It was a marketing tactic by the tobacco industry to get kids to think it was cool to smoke at a very young age, develop these lethal habits at a very young age. To a lesser extent, these toys in their Happy Meals kind of do the same thing. They reward kids and get them to think that it’s the OK thing to do at a very young age.”
A local group of public health advocates wrote an op-ed supporting the measure in the Duluth News Tribune last week as well, calling on the the Superior City Council to “vote for this common-sense measure.” However, they recognized the hurdles in facing the fast-food industry (which fought the ordinance in San Francisco pretty heavily and is likely to do so anywhere it pops up,.. at least at the beginning):
“McDonald’s executives flew into town yesterday, and the fast-food industry likely will send more lobbyists, create delays, and make promises of ‘healthier’ meals in an effort to avoid true accountability in Superior.”
Unfortunately, the measure in Superior did get voted down. So, McDonald’s won this round, but you can be pretty sure that this is going to pop up in more cities around the country. Could it be yours?
Thank you to Markie McBrayer, an activist with Corporate Accountability International, for contributing a great deal to this article and tipping me off to the story.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via flickr (CC license)